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London homeowners cash in on royal wedding

London's short-term rental market is booming, thanks in part to the royal wedding in April. The shortage of hotels has prompted tourists flocking to the city to look for alternative places to stay: private homes.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

They'll share a roof - and so will Londoners with tourists

Royal wedding fans heading for London for the big day on April 29 are finding it ever more difficult to find a place to stay.

Hotel rooms around the dates of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding are expensive - and almost sold out.

So tourists are forced to look elsewhere if they plan to be in town for the wedding. Asian, American and other international visitors are prepared to pay top prices for a room - even if it's in someone's home.

London homeowners are set to rake in about 114 million euros ($162 million) from rental income over the weekend of the wedding.

Skyrocketing prices

London apartment

Tourists are prepared to pay top rates even for just a couch

On the southern banks of the River Thames, with sweeping views of Tower Bridge and regal England behind, properties are renting fast.

Property experts say London's steep hotel prices - and shortage of rooms - have prompted a 40 percent spike in demand with the property market scrambling to keep up.

"The wedding was such a surprise that most of the property industry wasn't really ready for this," said Nigel Lewis of the website Findaproperty.com.

"Now that they have seen the demand coming onto sites like ours, it's become clear that there is this huge demand for short-term rents," he added.

Prices range from 34 euros - for a room in a private home - to more than 4,000 euros a week - for a whole house in central London.

Tower Bridge in London

Got a room with a view? In April, it'll be worth a lot of money

A test for the Olympics

There is no cap on rental prices, meaning landlords are free to charge what they want. Not a problem, experts say, since demand is high.

"We've seen more and more people adding their rooms in London as hosts. But the hosts we already had have seen demand increase by 36 percent the week before and the week after and the weekend of the royal wedding," said Stephen Rapoport, the founder of Crashpadder.com.

Rapoport's website offers properties and landlords who double-up as local hosts, enthusiastic to show their visitors a taste of traditional England. He said the spike in demand was striking.

"That's most pronounced from Germany, Japan and America," Rapoport said. "In fact, guests from those countries have increased by 106 percent."

The royal wedding is also a test run of London's accommodation capacity for the 2012 Olympics. The shortage of rooms implies there may be problems during the Games. But then, too, thousands of private landlords will probably line up to cash in.

Author: Nina-Maria Potts, London /ai
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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